Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P61 (09-07-20)
As we think about the attitudes of love, we think about the attitude of Christ Jesus, who is God, and God is love. Again, Jesus did not come here so we can copy his actions. What He did is what God called Him to do. He did not call us to raise Lazarus from the dead, nor are we able to raise anyone from the dead. We are the ones who needed to be raised from the dead, and that is why Christ Jesus came to do what he did and that is how we know what love is.
What Jesus did was show us what it means to live as a man. We are meant to live by faith in the same way he did. We are to imitate his faith, the trust and total dependency on His Father. He emptied himself of his divine attributes, coming in appearance as a man, and although never ceasing to be God, as the second Adam, one with the Spirit of God in Him, did nothing of his own initiative but did exactly what he saw his Father doing and saying exactly what his Father told him to say and how to say it.
But, if we do not have the Spirit of God in us, and none of us do until we are born again, then we cannot discern what God is telling us, and therefore, cannot live in the same faith that Jesus did. How can you imitate someone you do not understand or know? And this imitation I am talking about is not this false imitation we see in religion, where people think worship is raising your hands in a church building or boasting about what you say or do, and so many think that is what worship is, and think nothing about what you do every day of the week, at work or play or in the marketplace. God says his people, the born again, worship Him in Spirit and in truth. But if you do not have the Spirit and do not know what truth is, then how can you worship someone you do not know.
Now, to you, who are born again, we read in Romans 12 what God explains is our spiritual act of worship. We are to make our bodies available to God to live His life in and through you. We could never generate the fruit of the Spirit, what we read about in Galatians 5:22-23, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. That is what the Spirit produces. As Jesus explained in John 15, in the parable of the vine and the branches, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. A branch does not produce fruit, but it bears fruit, as it remains attached to the vine, relying on the vine to take the nutrients of the soil and bring it to the branch so that fruit is produced. The branch can only bear fruit. So too with us. Apart from Christ Jesus we can do nothing. We must abide in Christ for the fruit of the Spirit to be produced in and through us./
So this abiding is how the Christian life is lived. We cannot live it. We were designed by God to be in total dependence on God through the Spirit He has given us. God, in essence, restored mankind back to its original design in the garden of Eden before Adam sinned.
Adam was created with the Spirit of God living in Him. God created everything there is for man’s enjoyment and provided everything Adam needed for life and godliness. Adam lived in total dependence on Christ. But one day, Adam chose to believe a lie in the garden of Eden, through the serpent, or Satan, and so the Spirit of God left Adam because of that sin of unbelief, just as God said would happen and warned him against. Since that time every man born in Adam is born in that state, without the Spirit of God in him, and so is unable to function in the same way God designed mankind to live.
Everything that does not come from faith is sin. This faith in God, that relationship with the living God, is what is restored. To trust that He always loved you and is for you and has the best in mind for you is what you come to understand and enter into that rest in Him. He is a perfectly loving Father and has said to you, who are in Christ, that you have been given everything you need for life and godliness. That Christ in you, that dynamic relationship with someone who unconditional loves you and accepts you, is how we live.
So Jesus says to us, “Abide in me, trust in me, rely upon me and I will produce my fruit in and through you.” In order to do that, you have to have an attitude of servitude, of humility and of dependency. So that is what true worship is. We get a picture of that when we look at the life of Christ on this earth. When we ponder the fact that he left heaven, and became like us in all respects, except without sin, and lived a perfect life by submission to his Father, and became obedient to death on a cross, so that which kept us from God, our sins, is taken way, so that by his resurrection from the dead, he offers the Spirit living in him to be received as a gift to us who believe. That is humility. That is servitude, that is dependency.
Those attitudes of servitude, humility and dependency is what He wants to form in us. That comes, first of all by being born again, by that same faith in Him. We grow in grace and knowledge of God as we read His word and allow Him to reveal truth to our hearts. That truth is what sets us free. You see, when we lived in darkness, we did not know what truth was, and so we lived by our own understanding, for that is all we had. But now truth is living in us. God, who is truth, is living in us. We have the mind of Christ to discern His ways.
Jesus in us showed us a new way to live. Those fleshly patterns that are ingrained in our minds do not just automatically disappear. We are instructed to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Jesus is our Counselor and best friend, and He reveals truth to us, and He does so as we read His word and allow Him to. He told us that the truth shall set you free. So it is important to know that without the renewing of the mind nothing is going to happen to us. Action and thought follows attitude. To change actions, you change your thinking, you attitudes of heart, and then actions and feelings will naturally follow.
We are talking about attitudes of love. As we mentioned before, action always follows an attitude. We studied Philippians 2:5-8 in regard to the fact that our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!
It does not say our action should be the same as Christ Jesus, but your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus. The reason for that, again, is that actions follow attitude. Now, Jesus said his attitude was an attitude of dependency. We are going to look at some of those characteristics of Jesus taking upon himself our humanity. First of all, he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. In other words, he is going to lay aside that prerogative to act as God. Instead of doing that, he made himself nothing, calling himself a man. That is humbling. He took upon himself the nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, being God appearing as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!
You see there an attitude of servitude. You see an attitude of humility. You see an attitude of dependency. When you look at that, those are the attitudes that it says that our attitudes should be like, the same as Christ Jesus. Obviously, as we discussed last week, when your attitude is an attitude of dependency, then you will be doing what God tells you to do. You are not following the actions of Jesus.
Many people have asked, “What would Jesus do?” He did what the Father told him to do. How are we going to emulate that unless the Father is telling us to do the same thing? If the Father happens to tell me to do something that He also told Jesus, I can say that is fine. But obviously I do not think too many people have been told to go raise Lazarus from the dead. He told Jesus to do that and Jesus did that. I am not going to follow that action because God did not tell me to do that nor do I think He will. My attitude should be one of dependency in whatever God does tell me to do and follow up on that. God might tell you and me to just go give a cup of water in the name of Christ. If you do, and He tells you to do that, is that any greater or lesser of an action than going and raising the dead? No. If God tells you to do something, you go do it and get the same praise, if He tells you to give a cup of water as He does to tell someone else to raise the dead. The whole issue is dependency on what God tells you to do. God does not tell everyone to do what we do night after night on radio, to talk on the radio and proclaim the gospel. He might tell someone else to go and talk to his neighbor. Am I going to be rewarded more for doing what God has told me to do than a person to go next door and talk to his neighbor? Absolutely not. In both instances, if we are functioning in an attitude of dependency, we are doing what God told us to do and not in what He told someone else to do.
I cannot reiterate enough that we need to get our minds off this idea of emulating the actions of Jesus because it did not tell us to emulate the actions. It says our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. What God wants to develop in us is an attitude of servitude, an attitude of humility. Do not be looking at yourself as more highly than you ought. That was Jesus, although God, he set that aside in order to teach man how to live, not how to live as God. If He came down here totally behaving as God, we could not learn anything, for we are not God and never will be God nor ever be little gods as some people like to teach. Jesus came as an appearance as a man, but taught us how to live as a man in total dependency upon Christ, an attitude of servitude, an attitude of humility and an attitude of dependency upon his Father.
If we are going to develop that kind of an attitude that is going to take a lot of renewing because there is nothing in our flesh that wants to be a servant. Rather, we want to be served. There is nothing in our flesh that wants to be humble. We like to be prideful. There is nothing in our flesh that wants to depend on anything except ourselves. If that attitude is going to be passed on to us and developed, it is going to take a lot of the renewing of our mind. That is what we studied last week in Romans 12:1-10.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Let us step back and view something in more detail in the first two verses. In light of the mercy of God, doing for you what you could never do for yourself, Christ gave his life for you in order to give his life to you in order to live his life through you. In view of God’s desire to do that for you, there is one thing he says he wants us to do, that is all. He does not want you to go out and sic them for Jesus, which I did for years.
“I want you to make your body available to me as a living sacrifice. I already made you holy and acceptable in the sight of God. So you do not have to worry about that.” If you are in Christ, you are already holy. By that one offering He made forever perfect in the sight of God all those whom He made holy. You have already been made holy. You have already been made complete, perfect in the sight of God. So you do not need to work at that. There is nothing for you to work at. “I am calling you to a rest, from your efforts, so that my works may be manifested through you.”
It would be like talking to a branch. “I do not want you to go out and do something for me. I want you to abide in me. I, vine, will do the work. I will produce the fruit. I am asking you to bear the fruit. You cannot produce it. I never thought you would. I knew you never could. All I am asking you to do is to walk in a dependent relationship with a humility of saying, as a branch, ‘I have a function but I cannot produce anything that God is looking for.’ To have that attitude of servitude that I, a branch, is there to let the vine produce fruit, not for myself but for others.”
As I illustrated this before. A cow does not drink his own milk. An apple tree does not eat his own apples The fruit is for others, not for ourselves. It is for the benefit of other people. The gifts God has given us is not to edify ourselves with it. I am not to sit in a closet to teach myself. It is for the benefit of someone else. People who want to take a spiritual gift for self edification have totally reversed the purpose of fruit. It would be like a cow turning around drinking up all the milk. Or a tree sitting there and gobbling up all the fruit. That is not the purpose of it. So we have the attitude of servitude that God has put in us, saying, “you abide in me and I will do the work.”
As we pick up this concept that our bodies are for the Lord, who is our head. First of all, we have been made into the body of Christ. About 2000 years ago, if you were to look for the body of Christ, you would have to go into Israel to look for Jesus of Nazareth and there you will find the body of Christ. But Jesus said it is for your good that I am going away, for when I do, then I will send my Spirit to live in you, and you are going to be my body here on this earth. Right now the body of Christ is not in a church building. It is people. So the church is not a building. It is people, the ekklesia, called out ones, born again people, indwelt by the Spirit of God. As Romans says. If the Spirit of God does not live in you, then you do not belong to Him.
“I have made you into my body. I have done it all. You cannot improve upon that. I have plugged you into vine. Now make your body available to me to do my work in and through you.” It says there that this is your spiritual act of worship. I see worship as a spiritual act. I see worship as a fleshly act. I can see worship as a religious act and I can see it as a spiritual act. What I see as a spiritual function, when you say “walk in the Spirit” what do you mean? It means contrary to walking in the flesh. When it says “pray in the Spirit”, it means praying contrary to the flesh. When I am praying in the flesh, I am trying to get. When I am praying in the Spirit, I am praising Him for what I got.
So, he says your spiritual act of worship is not what you do in an assembly. It is not singing praise songs, and I know people do that and call it a worship service. “We are going to come and worship the Lord.” What we mean by that is we are going to sing songs. In some cases that means your eyeballs are back into your head, or your hands raised up, or piously folded in your lap. What difference does any of that make if you do not have arms? Yet people think they are more spiritual than someone else because of their uplifted arms. All of that is flesh. You have to recognize that. When I do something in the flesh, I have to recognize that. I cannot sit there and defend it. I have to recognize it and quit it. Quit showing off for Jesus. There is a spiritual act of worship that has nothing to do with your body movement. It has to do with making your body available to the living Christ to live his life in and through you.
“I am urging you in view of what God has done for you, there is only one thing I ask you to do, and that is availability.” God does not need your ability, just your availability. “I have plugged you into vine. Now, make yourself available to me. Abide in me, trust in me, rely upon me and I will produce my fruit in and through you.” In order to do that, you have to have an attitude of servitude, of humility and of dependency. So that is what true worship is.
Incidentally, only a born again believer can make his body available to the Christ who lives in him because only a born again believer has Christ living in him. A religious person cannot make their bodies available to the Christ who lives in him. He does not live in him. He lives in born again people. We can play religion and worship in that fashion, but the issue is that it is not spiritual worship according to the New Testament. In the New Testament, worship is making your body available to the living Christ who lives in you to live his life through you. Only a born again believer can do that. That is not done in a service. That is done where you live. That is done every moment of the day, where you work, where you play, where you go to church, where you go to a club meeting, whatever it might be. Christ is living in you.
One time, someone once asked, a girl who was a tennis professional. “Do you think God wants me playing professional tennis?“ I replied, “Do you think Jesus wants to be on a tennis court?” “Yes, I imagine.” “How is he going to get there unless you are there? In other words, if you are a professional tennis player, and Christ Jesus is alive living in you, you and Jesus are going to have a ball on the tennis court. Go enjoy that. Let Christ who lives in you live His life through you.”
That is true worship. Anybody can do the other. That is the thing that we do not realize that if we cannot see the difference between what anybody can do and what Christ can do, then something is wrong with our discerner. Anybody can get goosebumps in a praise service. Anybody can lift their arms up. Anybody can keep their arms piously in their lap. I do not care if you stick your hands in your ears. It does not make an ounce of difference. That is not what God is looking for. That is not worship. The true spiritual act of worship is making your body available to God to live His life in and through you. Only a born again believer can do that.
So we have an awful lot of imitations or substitutes for what is the real thing. We have a tendency to hang onto those much more than we do the spiritual things that God has given to us.
Now, in order for you and me to have our minds renewed, we have, as it says, to not conform any longer to the patterns of the world. The world is out there with all kinds of thinking patterns bombarding our minds continually. It is all contrary to the truth of the word of God. All of it. Everything that you see, wanting more, desiring more. “This is not pleasing.” “This is not making me happy.” “Let us go find something else to make me happy.” And we have gone happy crazy.
As we talked about so many times, the word “happy“ comes from the anglo-saxon word, “hap”. In other words, “hap” is what is happening. My happiness is predicated on what is happening. If everything is happening the way I want it to happen then I am happy. The reverse of that is also true. If everything is not happening the way I want it to happen, I am not happy. That is why there is a word “unhappy” but there is no word “unjoy”. There is no word “unjoy”. But there is a word “unhappy”. Why is there not a word “unjoy”? Because joy does not come from what is happening. Joy comes from God. That is why the apostle Paul could experience joy while he was in prison. Why? Because his joy was not predicated on where he was but who he was. So his joy did not come from what was happening.
Now if he was looking for happiness, I do not think he would have been very happy in that rotten jail he was in. But he was not looking for happiness. He was looking for joy. That joy is internalized in the only one who can produce joy in and through us and that is Christ Jesus. It is one of the fruit of the Spirit, joy.
So he says if we are going to experience the attitude of Christ Jesus, again, not the action but the attitude, then we are going to have to quit conforming to the pattern of this world. Stop buying everything that comes down the pike that the world tells you is a solution to your problems. Recognize that is not the solution to my problems. That is the worldly solution to my problems, but Jesus is the only true solution to my problems.
It is like peace, “peace I leave with you, peace I give unto you, not like the world gives unto you, give I you, but the peace that surpasses all understanding.” Then we say, “that is not good enough. I want some peace.” We look at vacations. We look at mountain streams. We look to the mountains. We look at all kinds of things for peace. It is kind of peaceful. The only problem is when you leave, the peace does not leave with you. That is a peaceful situation to sit by a mountain stream and to meditate there. I can think when we were over in Israel, when we were going by some of those streams over there, very peaceful. But the minute you walk away from it the peace is gone. It is a human peace but it is not the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. “Those things can be a supplement to my peace but they will never be a substitute for my peace.”
If we are going to walk in peace, we are going to have to have our minds transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are going to have to be transformed internally by the renewing of our mind. You notice it did not say to be transformed by the actions but by the renewing of our minds. Only as our minds are renewed on the word of God are we going to be able to test and approve what God’s will is, His good and pleasing and perfect will.
So what are we saying? Do I want to know, test and approve what God’s will is for me, His good, pleasing and perfect will? Sure. All of us want that. How do we do that? By renewing your mind. By getting your mind renewed and being transformed by the truth that is Christ Jesus, refusing to listen to error.
In this day and age, we have every hair-brained idea in the world coming out of the Christian world. And if we do not have discernment enough to know what is truth and what is not, then something is wrong with our discerner. I am amazed, sometimes at the total lack of discernment that I see in people who claim to be born again believers because the Spirit of truth lives in us. You see all of these people coming down and we have said before, how many of the popular teachers that are on television today who are preaching a prosperity gospel? In light of the fact that the scriptures in Timothy very clearly say that anyone who teaches that godliness is a means to financial gain, that is a prosperity gospel, is a man of corrupt mind. How can we not see that? I mean the word of God says that a man is of a corrupt mind who teaches that prosperity, that financial gain is a means to godliness. That is a false teacher.
So when I hear a man teaching that, I am not going to listen to anything he has to say. The trick of Satan is to put a little truth in with his error. In other words, the truth is that there is a lure that looks like a fish. The problem is there is a hook in it. “So I am going to make it look good enough. I am going to talk about Jesus just enough to get people to think everything is okay. The reason I am going to do that is I am going to suck them in like a lure but there is a hook in here. I am going to hook them on emotionalism instead of truth.” That is exactly what takes place today. All of a sudden we find ourselves like a fish in a frying pan and we do not know how to get out, and we do not know why it is hot there. We do not know why we are not free. Jesus said it is because you listened to error and the only solution to error is truth. My truth will push that error out and that truth will set you free. When the Son has set you free you shall be free indeed.
Basically, in summary of what we have been talking about, it is man’s attitude toward God as our teacher. We are told that in the scripture that the Holy Spirit of God came to be our instructor, our teacher and our counselor. As a matter of fact, he is called the Counselor. And so the attitude that we are talking about is, am I going to go to the Counselor or am I going to go to a counselor?
What true biblical counseling is all about is just merely leading people to Christ and leading them to dependency on the Spirit of God who is alive living in them to renew their mind. Without the renewing of the mind nothing is going to happen to us. Action and thought follows attitude. And so it is so important that we have the proper attitude towards God as my teacher. Therefore, if God is my teacher, that is why I am not going to conform any longer to the patterns or the teachings of the world. The world can come in and talk about all of their brilliant philosophies if they want to. As an example, in evolution, they can sit here and discuss that intellectually all they want to, all day long, but as far as I am concerned, it is a very, very simple situation. The Lord Jesus Christ is God. God said that we are created and that ends the subject. You can get into all of these intellectual discussions you want to. You hear people just expounding their brilliance all over the place on both sides of that issue. But the issue is not anything except if Jesus is God, and He said that He created man. He did not create a monkey in order to make one. We act like it sometimes, but the fact that we are created by God that ends the evolutionary discussion as far as I am concerned.
Now let us take a look at some of the attitudes toward the body of Christ. In other words, we have an attitude toward Christ as our teacher. Now let us take a look at attitudes toward the body of Christ, one another. In Romans 12:3-5 it goes ahead to say this.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
This is a perfect picture of a marvelous truth of you and me as a part of the body of Christ. Do not think we sit around thinking, “Boy, my hands are sure better than the feet. Look at what those marvelous hands are doing and my feet just kind of sitting there right now, and sitting here analyzing the parts of your body.” We know as a human being, that right now you are looking at me and I am looking at you. I am looking at your head, and underneath that head is a body that is controlled by the head.
Your body does not control your head. Your head controls your body. That is where it is supposed to function, at least. So therefore, we see that you have one head and you have one body, yet your body is made up of many, many parts, is it not? Every one of those parts belong to one another. So when we realize that there are no heroes in the body. If God gave you a mouth to speak with, is that mouth any more important to you than your stomach? No. It is all a part of the body. Who made us a part of the body? Jesus. And when Jesus made us a part of the body, not all of the parts of the body have the same functions. Not all of the parts of the body have the same gifts.
As an example, how would you like it if we just had one gift of teaching. Everybody would just be sitting around teaching up a storm all the time. How would you like it if I came and said to you, “Bob, unless you have the gift of teaching, you are not filled with the Spirit?” You have got to be kidding me. Why would someone come up and say if you do not have the gift of tongues then you are not filled with the Spirit? Both are gifts yet there are people who camp on that kind of nonsense and say that there is a gift that if you do not have it, you are not controlled by the Spirit or in some cases you are not even born again. That is in total contrast to what scripture teaches in regard to the body of Christ and to the functions of the body and the gifts of the Spirit within the body. Everyone is not a nose, but what has happened is we have become infatuated with our gift instead of the giver.
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